New Strictly judge Shirley Ballas on the launch show’s “moving, beautiful dedication” to Bruce Forsyth

Brucie was a huge part of Strictly Come Dancing, so expect an emotional tribute as the judges and dancers pay their respects

Shirley Ballas

New Head Judge Shirley Ballas has warned Strictly fans to have their tissues at the ready before they watch the launch show’s “moving” tribute to Sir Bruce Forsyth.

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Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday night and will mark the death of its longtime host Sir Bruce, who passed away at the age of 89 in August, with a special performance. The launch show was recorded earlier this week.

Speaking on ITV’s Lorraine, Ballas said the moment would be emotional.

“I think everybody will have to have their tissues,” she said. “It’s just the most beautiful dedication to him, of his life. It was moving, it was just beautiful. He was iconic.”

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There were also hints of what Ballas will be like as a judge – and what dancers will have to do to impress her.

The “Queen of Latin” declared she wouldn’t be cutting the celebrities any slack, even if they’re starting out as complete amateurs like Ruth Langsford and Charlotte Hawkins.

“No, no, no!” she told Lorraine Kelly. “Because you come into the show, you understand about what you’re signing up for I would imagine. I hope so anyway. And of course they have several weeks now to prepare… I’m expecting quite interesting things from the very beginning.

“I’m not expecting them to dance like world champions. But they’ll come in and we’ll start to see who’s serious, who’s nervous. It’s a competition for me, I take it quite serious.”

The Strictly Come Dancing judges Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli
The Strictly Come Dancing judges (Getty)

There was more vital info on last night’s The One show, where Ballas popped in to visit former Strictly contestants Matt Baker and Alex Jones.

What’s she looking out for? “I’m very much into grounding your weight and the technical aspect of it,” she revealed. “Which part of your foot are you going to use? Is it your heel, your toe, or your inside edge? Where are you rolling? How are you closing? How do you pass your feet?

“And of course I love synchronisation, because your arms are as long as your legs, so you have to coordinate the upper half with the lower half. And then you have to have chemistry, and then you have to bring a performance of a lifetime.”

Should be pretty easy to impress her, then.

And how will she get on with the other judges? As she takes over Len Goodman’s seat between Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli, Ballas has clearly been briefed about the dangers of flailing arms and theatrical gestures.

“If I can just keep Bruno in his space,” she joked to Lorraine Kelly. “I reckon I’ll have to have good peripheral vision because I will be dodging and ducking.”

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Strictly Come Dancing – The Launch airs on Saturday 9th September at 7pm on BBC1